The Wonderful Weald of Kent
Published: Tuesday 27th Aug 2013
There are so many attractions in this lovely part of Kent, each offering an amazing experience. One of these is the Kent and East Sussex Railway, a beautifully restored piece of Railway history. Tenterden Station is a perfectly preserved terminus that has been used by film companies wanting authentic backdrops. You might have spotted it in The Darling Buds of May. There are a variety of locomotives from different eras as well as carriages including Pullman Cars that serve sumptuous meals. The trains chug through the countryside to Bodiam via Rolvenden, Wittersham and Newenden. Alight at Newenden to see another of the Wonders - a delightful Toy and Pedal Car Museum - as well as the poignant wagon that brought the bodies of executed Edith Cavell and the Unknown Soldier back from the First World War.
Bodiam Castle is a perfect example of a medieval moated fortified house. It is now run by the National Trust and often has family days when children can try on suits of armour and pretend to be knights or princesses locked in the towers. An alternative route to and from Bodiam is by the MV Dannie Lee along the River Rother. The boating station is at Newenden from where you can also hire rowing boats and kayaks and enjoy a yummy cream tea. It's a great day out and sometimes the Railway has themed events involving all the stops along the way including Thomas the Tank, 1940s Musical Events and Santa Specials. There is also an annual salute to hop pickers who used the railways to travel down from London's East End up to the 1960s when the hop harvest was increasingly mechanized and demand for itinerant pickers died out.
Hops are a rare sight nowadays though there are still enough to supply the local breweries who make specialist ales. Dickens remarked that "everyone knows Kent - cherries, hops, apples and women" and he would be content that we can still boast bountiful crops of cherries and apples and as to women - well we are a superior breed (but I would say that wouldn't I?). In addition to apples - and some of the best apple juice and cider is produced in Kent - we have the most marvellous grapes that are crushed into superb wines. Vineyards at Biddenden, Marden, Tenterden and Staplehurst are on our doorstep and the wines and sparkling wines are absolutely delectable.
This county is not known as The Garden of England for nothing. It is still a chiefly agricultural region producing generous supplies of vegetables and fruit - the strawberries at Wimbledon are sent from Kent - as well as Romney Marsh lamb and of course plentiful amounts of fish from many of the sea ports including Whitstable famed for its oysters.